A voice for Indigenous Australians

Release Date: 
30 October 2019
Media release

Indigenous Australians from across Australia will have the opportunity to have their say on the development of an Indigenous voice to government.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, has today announced the co- design process that will develop models to enhance local and regional decision-making and provide a voice for Indigenous Australians to government.

To lead the process, Minister Wyatt will establish a Senior Advisory Group to co-design options for a model that will ensure that Indigenous Australians are heard at all levels of government - local, state and federal. They will be tasked with forming a National Co-Design Group, and a Local/Regional Co-Design Group, and oversee the process.

The Senior Advisory Group will be co-chaired by two prominent Indigenous leaders, Professor Tom Calma AO and Professor Dr Marcia Langton AM.

“Today there are almost 800,000 Indigenous Australian voices—from the far reaches of the top end of Australia to inner Sydney. I am committed to being the Minister for all Indigenous Australians, and want to make sure that all of these voices can be heard loud and clear,” Minister Wyatt said.

Minister Wyatt also stressed the importance of engaging with the community on this issue.

“We need to get it right. Models will be workshopped with communities across urban, regional and remote Australia,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The best outcomes are achieved when Indigenous Australians are at the centre of decision-making. We know that for too long decision making treated the symptoms rather than the cause.”

“It’s time that all governments took better steps to empower individuals and communities, and work in partnership to develop practical and long lasting programmes and policies that both address the needs of Indigenous Australians and ensure that Indigenous voices are heard as equally as any other Australian voice.”

The Senior Advisory Group will be made up of up to 20 leaders and experts from across the country, drawing on a range of skills and experience. Separate regional and national co-design groups will also be established to develop models to enhance local/regional decision-making and a national voice to governments to test across the country.

Professor Calma AO is the Chancellor of the University of Canberra and has previously served as the Race Discrimination Commissioner and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Professor Dr Langton is a previous member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians (2012) and has been appointed as the first Associate Provost at the University of Melbourne.

The Morrison Government has committed $7.3 million for the co-design process.